Jesus! (A Sermon on Luke 2:21)

Here’s a marvelous excerpt from a sermon by Friedrich Wyneken, second president of the
Synod. It’s extremely appropriate in these uncertain times of war and turmoil, and also
wonderfully illustrates the theme for the LCMS’ 175th Anniversary: “Only Jesus.”

“And at the end of eight days, when He was circumcised, he was called Jesus, the name given by the angel before he was conceived in the womb” (Luke 2:21).

My beloved, we stand once again at the threshold of a new year. It is natural for us to wonder: “What will it bring?” But no man can answer the question. Only God knows the answer. …

“So we are in the dark about all this” you say, “in darkness and uncertainty, and that bothers me!” Behold, there your God has painted over the entrance and door a beautiful painting with a name over it. Take note of it and ask God that He bring to you that dear picture and place that name into your heart. The painting is the circumcision of Christ. The name is the sweet, precious name Jesus. …

Here, with His first drops of blood, this little child is guarantor against the Law that judges and condemns, and [He is] the righteousness of God. For the one who has faith in this little child and has held to the name of Jesus can head into the new year with joy and confidence. He is called “Jesus” because He shall save His people from their sins. For this little child, after He completed His work of redemption, sat down at the right hand of almighty God. Through His crucified hands He governs the entire world. His hand sends you everything that will come upon you this year, and His name is the guarantee that out of this hand must flow pure blessings to you.

It is true, He has not promised that no want, plague, or trouble shall befall you this year. To the contrary, He has said to you beforehand: “Unless a man take up his cross daily and follow Me, he cannot be My disciple” [Luke 9:23, Luther Bibel]. Thus, as at Baptism, He has allowed you to be marked by a cross. This is [the case] so that at all times, you think about this cross and about the fact that you belong to the cruciform kingdom of the Crucified One. As His disciples, we must pass through many troubles to enter the kingdom of heaven. As certain as you are a Christian, so certain will you experience cross and need. Indeed, dear friends, seeing the accumulating sin of this nation and the mounting apostasy from the Gospel and the horrid rage against it, we can make a calculation on two matters: The judgment of God will finally and all the more harshly come to bear upon this land, proportionate to God’s blessings upon her and to the duration of His patience; finally, open persecution against the Gospel and those who confess it will break out in the land that hitherto has been its sanctuary.

But “nevertheless,” it says for us Christians, “nevertheless Israel has God for its consolation.” That gives us assurance for the present, [and] promises protection by the Gospel. The circumcision of Christ teaches us who have a Savior that every cause of fear and angst and concern is removed. For the Law with its curses and judgments has been removed. Thus, in the misfortune that may affect us, we no longer see any punishment or anger of God, but rather the disciplining hand of a loving Father. …

It is true—you very well may remain poor or become poor in earthly possessions, but you have what He says: “I will not leave you nor forsake you” [Hebrews 13:5] … It would be an amazing thing if the One who sent us His own Son as a gift would not give us bread, food, and clothing for this body and life.

It is possible that you will face difficult sufferings and trials. Bread is often prepared with tears! But Jesus is with you! “He is faithful. He does not allow temptation beyond what you can bear, and orders things so that the trials come to an end, so that you can bear up under it” [1 Corinthians 10:13, Luther Bibel]. “Can a mother forget her infant child? And though she should forget, I will never forget you. Behold, I have written you in the palms of My hands,” [Isaiah 49:15–16, Luther Bibel]…

It is possible that God will sift His Church by persecution. But: “Do not fear those who kill the body, and after that have nothing more that they can do,” Christ says to us in Luke 12:4. “Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? And not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. But even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not” [Matthew 10:29–31]. Are you anxious because you fear that you won’t be steadfast? All the martyrs experienced this very angst. But God wonderfully, beyond expectation and understanding, strengthened and preserved them so they faced death with joy.

In short, come what may, JESUS! Jesus.

3 thoughts on “Jesus! (A Sermon on Luke 2:21)”

  1. lawrence nerney

    This is why I am still a Lutheran. We have not attended in many years. However, this sermon and similar, cause me to pause in my day and pray, praise and give thanks. Only a Lutheran (LCMS) pastor can do this to me. He is high up in the church. He will always be a pastor. There is no higher title upon the earth.

  2. Re: “Indeed, dear friends, seeing the accumulating sin of this nation …, we can make a calculation….”

    Before we attempt the calculation, we might want to consider, “How unsearchable his judgments….!” (Romans 11:33 ESV)

    Re: “It would be an amazing thing if the One who sent us His own Son as a gift would not give us bread, food, and clothing for this body and life.”

    It is not difficult to identify parts of the world where Christians among others suffer truly devastating privations.

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